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IV.24. Mons Parturiens


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 520.


Mons parturibat, gemitus immanes ciens,

eratque in terris maxima expectatio.

At ille murem peperit. Hoc scriptum est tibi,

qui, magna cum minaris, extricas nihil.


Here is the poem in a more prose-like word order for easy reading:


Mons parturibat, ciens immanes gemitus,

et in terris erat maxima expectatio.

At ille peperit murem.

Hoc scriptum est tibi,

qui extricas nihil,

cum minaris magna.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Mons par~turi~bat, gem'~tus im~manes ~ ciens,

erat~qu(e) in ter~ris max~im(a) ex~pecta~tio.

At il~le mu~rem pep'~rit. Hoc ~ script(um) est ~ tibi,

qui, mag~na cum ~ mina~ris, ex~tricas ~ nihil.




The mountain was in labor, generating enormous groans, and throughout the land there was the greatest anticipation. But the mountain gave birth to a mouse. This is written for you who wind up doing nothing even though you make great threats.


[This translation is meant as a help in understanding the story, not as a "crib" for the Latin. I have not hesitated to change the syntax to make it flow more smoothly in English, altering the verb tense consistently to narrative past tense, etc.]


The Mountain in Labor (trans. C. Smart)

The Mountain labor'd, groaning loud,

On which a num'rous gaping crowd

Of noodles came to see the sight,

When, lo ! a mouse was brought to light!

This tale 's for men of swagg'ring cast,

Whose threats, voluminous and vast,

With all their verse and all their prose,

Can make but little on 't, God knows.




Here is an illustration from an early printed edition; click on the image for a larger view.




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